From the President: October 2013
Sara Kelly Johns, NYLA President
Open Libraries, Open Minds
The role of NYLA President is made up of many parts. Part of the presidency is to keep NYLA organizationally strong to better pay attention to the needs of the members and the profession. Part is to have a focus that moves NYLA’s membership ahead. Part is to be a spokesperson for the organization. And part is to lead NYLA through the surprises that happen that are compelling to the profession (there is always at least one every year.)
As a member of NYLA, you can expect that NYLA Council will look at our strategic plan this year. We are halfway through the current plan developed when Marcia Eggleston was president; it’s time to evaluate where we are and what we need to do to move ahead. WE can do that.
With the addition of Mike Neppl , as Director of Government Relations and Advocacy to our staff, NYLA has the opportunity to develop not only this year’s legislative priorities with the legislative committee ably led by Kevin Verbesey but also a long-range legislative plan addressing how libraries are funded. WE can do that.
I ask that when you get a message from Jeremy that has the words “Advocacy Alert” in the subject line, don’t skip over it because you are busy right then. Open it, read it, and make a plan. Does it mean you making a phone call? Going to visit a local office? Alerting your advocates? The dependable advocates, or a new group that cares about that issue? Sending out messages to your regional listservs asking for action, for activism? It takes a loud voice, one with a common message, supplemented with YOUR stories to “educate” local, state and national legislators to make a difference for libraries and for our communities. WE can do that.
I have participated in the NYLA Library Legislative Day for several years and know that NYLA’s presence makes a difference in Albany. Please attend on Thursday, February 27, 2014; it matters. I have also been part of the New York State delegation to ALA’s National Library Lobby Day for the last five years. We are one of the most populous states and one of the smallest teams. One of my goals this year is to double the size of the New York State delegation. After ALA briefings, we bring our stories to our legislators’ offices as a team of public, school and academic librarians. A train from Penn Station to Union Station is direct and affordable—Syracuse trains, Albany trains, Niagara Falls trains all go to Penn Station. Car pools, and vans filled with people can drive to Capital Hill. We need to double the size of the NLLD delegation, take the energy of our NYLA legislative day to Washington, and move our state’s federal library needs to the forefront of our legislators’ priorities. WE can do that.
To paraphrase a Delta airline ad, we can’t move libraries ahead by staying in the past. New York state libraries have a rich heritage and a wealth of knowledge and there are places to go, and growth to happen. NYLA is the voice of our community and, as your president, I am the voice of NYLA this year. Backed by the 4000 members of NYLA, I have a very LOUD voice and together WE can make a difference.